Will fimbo ya Nyayo propel Gideon to launch bid for presidency?

Wednesday March 18 2020
OPAPIC

Deputy President William Ruto (left) condoles with Gideon Moi during the public viewing of former President Daniel Moi's body at Parliament Buildings on February 8, 2020. The two are fighting for supremacy in Rift Valley. PHOTO | CHARLES KIMANI | DPPS

By KWENDO OPANGA

Before a watching and attentive world, departed President Daniel Moi’s eldest son Raymond handed over the iconic, emblematic and ivory-plated baton to the kitinda mimba (last-born) of the family and dad's favourite, Gideon.

The significance and impact of that moment and action was only partly captured by the eruption of applause that greeted it.

On many minds, on many a mind’s eye, flashed the picture of Gideon leading with the baton aloft.

Gideon is already a senator and a political star in his own right, but that is not what the baton is all about. President Kenyatta is founding President Kenyatta’s son, why should Moi’s son not become President?

Raymond’s words were weighty. He is the eldest, but in political terms, the mantle of leadership belongs to the family’s youngest.

He reminded his kid bro that dad worked for all Kenyans and he should start by reviving Kanu.

This served as the public unveiling or investiture of the Baringo senator as a regional kingpin and a contender for the presidency.

Those present and those following proceedings worldwide saw the making of serious combat.

LOCAL DUEL

Before Gideon stakes a claim to national leadership, he must marshal support at home among the Kalenjin, Maa speakers and the Rift Valley.

That puts him onto a collision course with Deputy President William Ruto.

Either man would have preferred to have the whole of the expansive Rift Valley under lock and key before taking the search for votes further afield. They will now have to fight each other in a local duel for supremacy.

All politics is local, but local politics impacts, and is impacted by, national politics. The alliances each man forges will determine how their vote-rich, but volatile, region shapes or is shaped by the 2022 General Election.

At the family level, Dr Ruto would appear to start the contest as an underdog with a point to prove: he is the son of a peasant come good. Mr Moi has the name recognition and father’s networks to fine-tune and energise.

REVIVE PARTY

At the party level the playfield appears even. The DP cannot claim to have a hold on the governing Jubilee Party, which is split right down the middle.

It cannot hold a Parliamentary Group meeting lest a civil war breaks out.

Mr Moi has the gargantuan task of breathing life into Kanu, which is at best a poor parody of its former vibrant self and at worst on its deathbed. Note: rather than rebrand Kanu, President Kenyatta quit to found his own party.

Mr Moi will have heard organised labour boss Francis Atwoli say that when Mr Kenyatta sought his opinion on rebranding Kanu, he resisted the idea. Perhaps that is why Mr Kenyatta decamped. It’s decision time for Mr Moi.

How do the two relate to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which is politically ascendant, monopolistic and omnipresent and is set to change the political and governance architecture of the land?

BBI is driven by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his bitter foe turned great pal President Kenyatta. BBI is sold as committed to stamping out corruption, while the DP is portrayed as incorrigibly corrupt.

KEY BACKERS

The DP’s enemies argue that Kenya has two political formations named BBI and Tangatanga. The latter is the grouping in Jubilee associated with Dr Ruto. Its rival, identified with President Kenyatta, is called Kieleweke.

Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta are among the harshest critics of the DP, but they have been frequent visitors of the departed President.

That puts the younger Moi in their good books and as a man they can do business with.

Among supporters and observers alike, Mr Odinga will throw his hat in the ring for the fifth time come 2022. Will things be different this time around?

Mr Odinga is banking on the support of President Kenyatta and central and Mt Kenya regions to back up his solid Nyanza bedrock as well as Luhyaland to launch him into battle, possibly with a diminished DP.

He would welcome the support of Mr Moi and Rift Valley than take them on in battle. Many governors have declared interest in the presidency, but it is thought most will eventually back either Mr Odinga or Dr Ruto.

Will Mr Moi, Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto all go for the presidency? Only if BBI principals are certain their candidate will prevail and someone else would not sneak through.

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